Saturday, November 6, 2010

Letter #2 to US Air

I have not received a response to my earlier letter to US Air. I just put this one in the mail today:

USAir Scanner Letter 2

Libertarian Party: Scanners are Unconstitutional and Abusive

The LP has put out a statement opposing the use of scanners. An excerpt:

"Everyone who cares about civil liberties should be outraged that the Obama administration has shown no respect for travelers' privacy or their right to be free from unreasonable searches. The fact that I want to travel on an airplane does not make me a threat, and it does not allow anyone to conduct a warrantless search under my clothing. The Obama administration apparently agrees with the neoconservative philosophy that there are no limits on government power in the areas of security and terrorism.
"Terrorists win when they provoke our government into overreacting. Apparently they have manipulated our government into chipping away at our rights and privacy. We should not let them get away with it."

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Spreading Cancer

Be warned that in just the last week, many more airports have had scanners installed. On 10/25, the list of airports to receive scanners was:
Chicago Midway International Airport
Dulles International Airport
Greater Rochester International Airport
Honolulu International Airport
Houston William P. Hobby Airport
John F. Kennedy International Airport
La Guardia International Airport
Orlando International Airport
Philadelphia International Airport
Saipan International Airport
San Antonio International Airport
Seattle-Tacoma International Airport
Of that list, the ones in bold now have scanners.

The good news? The list of airports to receive scanners has not increased (yet).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Does the state care about your health?

No - especially if it conflicts with the power grabs of the "security" state. Let me preface this post by stating that even if the scanners were 100% safe and benign, I would nonetheless oppose them on the aforementioned privacy grounds.

But, the question remains: has enough research been done to ensure that they are safe? Here I link to all of the relevant studies that have been published in the academic literature. I should also note that I am not the only scientist to have noticed the dearth of research in this area, although, sadly, other scientific organizations have set aside their adherence to the scientific method on this one.

Credible images?

I'm looking for real images taken via any of the scanners (millimeter or x-ray backscatter). I have confirmed that there is one hoax (the blonde woman with the really nice body). This image below appears to be a legit image of a airport worker:

The TSA posted these images on their blog:

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Update on US Air

US Air has not yet responded to my letter. I will be sending out a follow-up to them shortly, so stay tuned!

Senate's complicity

Since today is voting day, just a reminder of who is really at fault in abusing our 4th Amendment rights. In 2009, the House overwhelmingly passed an amendment to the TSA bill that would have disallowed the scanners as primary screening. The Senate let the amendment die, clearing the way for the hundreds of scanners now in use in airports across the country.

June, 2009: 
The House then voted 310-118 to approve a Chaffetz amendment banning it, adding that to a Transportation Safety Administration authorization bill. The whole bill passed later, and now goes to the Senate for consideration.
January, 2010:
The Senate did not adopt the Chaffetz amendment, so the TSA is free to press ahead with installing the body scanners.

Monday, November 1, 2010

An Appeal to Southwest

Matt Novak writes to me to say that I inspired him to write this letter to Southwest:

November 1, 2010
Gary C. Kelly, President/CEO
Southwest Airlines

Dear Mr. Kelly,

In April 2010, my 8 week old daughter, who my wife and I brought to Las Vegas for a family funeral, was swabbed for explosives residue by TSA agents.  My daughter was wearing a Pavlik Harness (a simple cloth and Velcro strap system to keep her hips in a position favorable for development).  She was subjected to the procedure at McCarran International Airport because the supervisor on duty thought it was a "good idea".  We were told that it would be "discrimination" to single out others for such screening, and that "you never know what someone might try."    Humiliated, I stood in line with all our travel gear while my wife and infant daughter underwent this invasive procedure.

As we live in Arizona, my family and I have chosen Southwest Airlines almost exclusively for our flying needs over the last several years. Unfortunately, the swabbing of my infant daughter and the recent addition of backscatter scanners as primary security at McCarran has forced us to change our normal habits in protest of TSA's ever increasing gross invasion of privacy and trampling of individual freedom.  

My uncle lives in Las Vegas, and we have used Southwest regularly to fly to visit him.  This will no longer be the case.  We will drive.  The TSA policy of treating every passenger as a criminal has just cost your airline approximately $700 in revenue (the price I was prepared to pay for flights to visit my uncle over Thanksgiving, before learning of our "choice" between backscatter scan or "enhanced patdown"). 

As a loyal Southwest flyer, I request that you do everything possible to stand up for your customers.  As it stands, the current TSA policy will cost your airline literally thousands of dollars in future revenue, just from my family alone.

We are slowly losing the last of our freedoms here in America; I am making a public appeal for help from people with a more pronounced and easily recognized voice to speak up before it is too late (I daresay, it already may be).  On this note, I intend to make this letter public via the Internet, in hopes it may attract your much needed attention/action.  Will you speak up in defense of liberty?


Matt Novak, Ph.D.

PS For a summary see an article at Wikipedia;  - Listing examples of the misuses, possible health issues, failure to provide added safety, etc. with references.

Matt, you too are an inspiration!

Federal case

The Electronic Privacy Information Center has been hard at work on behalf of our freedom. From their website:
EPIC Challenge to Airport Body Scanner Program Moves Forward in Federal Court: The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit has set a briefing schedule for EPIC v. DHS, No. 10-1157, EPIC's challenge to the airport body scanner program. EPIC has alleged that that the Department of Homeland Security has violated three federal laws (the Administrative Procedures Act, the Privacy Act, and the Religious Freedom Restoration Act) and that the body scanner search itself is unconstitutional, given what the courts have said about the permissible scope of airport screening procedures. EPIC's initial brief will be due November 1, 2010. Subsequent briefs from DHS and EPIC will be due by December 15, 2010. In earlier open government litigation against DHS, EPIC obtained evidence that the devices are designed to store and record images. For more information, see EPIC - EPIC v. DHS (Suspension of Body Scanner Program). (Sep. 2, 2010)

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Orbitz responds!

Thanks to all of the publicity in such a short period of time, I have just received a response from Orbitz. They heard about my letter at a website called Information Liberation.

Here's the letter from Orbitz:
Dear Mrs. Muratore,

Orbitz has seen a copy of the letter that was posted to US Airways, via the Information Liberation website.  On behalf of my colleagues at Orbitz, we sincerely apologize for your disappointing experience.  We are positive that US Airways will address your concerns, as well.

Please understand that the airports are not required to advise travel agents as to what type of screening procedures they use.   As I am sure you are aware, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) has jurisdiction over airport security operations.

The tickets that you purchased to travel from Baltimore to San Luis Obispo in December are non-refundable.  As a travel agency, Orbitz is required by the airline to process all penalty fees should you wish to voluntarily make a change to your existing reservation.  As a gesture of our goodwill, Orbitz is willing to waive our exchange fee, but without the consent from the airline, we are not in a position to waive any mandated airline exchange fees or absorb any additional costs should you wish to voluntarily change your flight to depart from another airport.

Here at Orbitz, we appreciate your concern for privacy.  In this post 9-11 world, we are also equally committed to helping the US government maintain a safe and secure air space.  We will, as a part of our follow up, address your privacy concerns within our industry association in Washington, DC.  Through our trade group, we can address this issue directly with the TSA so we can identify ways to better maintain that balance between customer privacy and our nation's security.

With kind regards,

Lisa Diehl

Lisa Diehl
Manager - Customer Relations 
500 West Madison Street, Suite 1000
Chicago, IL 60661

Office: 312 894-4689
BlackBerry: 312 479-4736
Fax:  800 520-0459

And here's my immediate response:

Ms. Diehl-

Thank you very much for your response. I did send a letter directly to Orbitz that I had hoped you received before I made the letters public online. I was unaware that Information Liberation had picked up my post but was surprised to find out that there were over 3000 hits to my blog so far this weekend. I will be making your response below public on my blog as well. I am very happy to hear that you will work with me on changing my travel plans and will also pursue action via your trade group. I sincerely hope that real changes are made in the name of freedom.